ON DECEMBER 26, 1907, The New York Times reported on a “frail-looking little woman” who had gathered 400 females in what a sub-headline called a “crusade against grasping landlords.” Led by sixteen-year-old Pauline Newman, the New York strikers sought a reduction of 18 to 20 percent in rents due to a depression that had thrust more than 100,000 people out of work. After 15 days, the strike ended with 2,000 families receiving lowered rents.
The strike also introduced the concept of rent control, which would be implemented in the 1930s. Two years later, Newman helped organize the Uprising of the 20,000, an 11-week general strike in New York’s shirtwaist industry. She worked for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union for more than 70 years and was also active in the women’s suffrage movement.